The Gadget: Aussie company Kogan's first attempt at a Blu-ray player.The Price:$349 The Verdict: Good for the price, but not the world's greatest Blu-ray player. Watching Casino Royale in HD is a great test for any Blu-ray player, and the Kogan performed well. Picture quality was crisp, playback was mostly stutter free and the sound was respectable. Even the UI, which in my personal experience has always been Kogan's Achilles heel, was clean and easy to navigate. Sure it wasn't the Sony Xross Media Bar (God I hate writing that), but it was still much better than some of the other implementations I've seen.
It's not the perfect player though (did anyone expect it to be for the price?) The first problem was the sound it made when switched on - It sounded like my old 486 computer powering up. You know, some mechanical clicking and whirring noises. Fortunately, the sounds were just when the player was powering up, not during playback. Secondly, and this is completely subjective, is the lighting on the front was was too overbearing. With the player set up under the TV, the blue light from the controls was distracting. Third was the remote - awful. But give me a universal remote any day of the week, and you've solved that problem easily.
The Kogan Blu-ray player can apparently play back discs from any region. I didn't get to test that out (not owning discs from other regions), but the process worked for the region-free copy of Casino Royale I was using. Of course the process was a bit awkward, and I only knew how to do it because I had been instructed by Kogan's PR rep.
All in all, this is a decent player, but the advantage it had over its rivals when it was announced (namely the price) has been reduced thanks to retailers offering the latest players from Samsung and Sony for around the same price. Personally, I wouldn't buy it because of the lack of BD-Live compatability, but then again, I have expensive taste and prefer to get top of the line equipment. So whether this is the right product for you is totally up to you...